Sunday, May 7, 2017

Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons

Francis Stephen Castelluccio was born in New Jersey in 1937. He began his professional singing career in 1952 and changed his name to "Frankie Valley," in 1953 before releasing his first single, "My Mother's Eyes".

The name Valley came from his favourite singer but later he changed the spelling to the Italian Valli. Frankie was a natural baritone who could use his three-and-half-octave range to move effortlessly into falsetto. In the mid fifties Frankie joined The Variety Trio who renamed themselves the Variatones then later, "The Four Lovers". The original members were Frankie Valli, twin brothers Nick and Tommy DeVito and Hank Majewski. The quartet had a top 40 hit with "Apple of My Eye" in 1956.

By 1960, they had become The Four Seasons and were named after a bowling alley in Union, NJ where they had been turned down for work. In 1961 there were lineup changes and Nick DeVito and Hank Majewski departed to be replaced by Nick Massi, and Bob Gaudio, former keyboards of the Royal Teens. Producer Bob Crewe started working with the Four Seasons in 1962. Along with Bob Gaudio he wrote and produced all of their big '60s hits. Sherry was released in 1962 and went to the top of the charts.

The next single "Big Girls Don't Cry", another Gaudio composition went to number one in the US.

Frankie’s shrill falsetto gave a distinctive sound to the Italian-American doo wop tradition and more hits followed with "Walk Like a Man," "Rag Doll", "Ain't That a Shame," "Candy Girl", and "Marlena", among many others.

In 1964, they moved from Vee-Jay Records to Philips and production became more sophisticated and they had several big hits including "Dawn (go away)," "Ronnie," "Rag Doll," "Save It for Me," and "Big Man in Town" (as well as a gem-like B-side, "Silence Is Golden," which would be a hit in 1967 for the Tremeloes).

Frankie began singing solo in 1966 and released "You're Gonna Hurt Yourself" which was a minor hit in 1966.

"Let's Hang On" in the same year reach number three in the charts.

Frankie continued with his solo career and released "Can't Take My Eyes off of You" followed by "I Make A Fool of Myself" and "To Give (the Reason I Live)".

Meantime the Four Season's had three Top 40 entries including "C'mon Marianne".

In the late sixties Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons toured throughout the United States, Europe and Asia. By the early seventies they were beginning to struggle and Valli and Gaudio were the only original members remaining. Then in 1974 Frankie was back at the top of the charts again with "My Eyes Adored You," then "Swearin' to God" in 1975.

The Four Seasons were back at No. 1 with the fantastic "December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)" in 1976.

Two years later Frankie had another hit with the title track from “Grease” (1978).

More recently Frankie has been seen on the small screen on the Sopranos and the Jersey Boys has been a massive Broadway show and movie directed by Clint Eastwood.

Worth a listen:
Sherry (1962)
Big Girls Don't Cry (1963)
Walk Like a Man (1963)
Candy Girl (1963)
Marlena (1963)
Dawn (1964)
Rag Doll (1964)
Ronnie (1964)
Big Man in Town (1964)
Let's Hang On (1966)
Chameleon (1972)
Who Loves You (1975)
December, 1963 (Oh, What a Night)(1976)

Frankie Valli
You're Gonna Hurt Yourself (1966)
Can't Take My Eyes off of You (1967)
I Make A Fool of Myself (1968)
To Give (the Reason I Live) (1969)
My Eyes Adored You (1974)
Grease (1978)

Silence is golden (1966)

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